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Mary Christmas
Thank you for Harrison Fletcher's "Virgin Rebirth," in the December 10 issue. What a pleasure to read--and what a nice story this holiday season!

Joy Friedel
Denver

The statue described and pictured in the article appears to be Our Lady of St. John of the Lake. Auraria library has a number of books about retablos and devotional paintings. One is Miracles on the Border: Retablos of Mexican Migrants to the United States. There are several paintings of Our Lady of St. John of the Lake that show the spiked halo, the tall crown, the moon on which the lady stands and the pedestal, which appears to be typical. Most do not show the wheel-shaped decorations on the robe, though they appear on the wood statue I own. In every example I have seen, the lady's hair is not covered by a veil, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe wears.

M. Grotzky
via the Internet

A Lonely Courtship
Regarding C.J. Janovy's "Court and Spark," in the December 17 issue:
I am a Nuggets fan and have been since they were the Rockets. Until this season, I had followed the Colorado Xplosion through the occasional newspaper article, which was usually hidden in the back of the sports section. Every once in a while they would show up on cable TV. I knew they had something special going, but as a single parent on a budget, I was only motivated to actually attend a game when the NBA decided to self-destruct this year. What a wonderful experience! I just got back from an exciting game against the Chicago Condors, which the Xplosion hung on to win, and I also attended their home opener, which they lost by one point. In that game, I traded high-fives with center Alisa Burras's parents when the excitement peaked.

Finding the Xplosion is like finding a diamond in the rough. They don't draw huge crowds, but they should. When they invented the word "scrappy," they were thinking of Debbie Black. The Nuggets have never had a player who worked so hard, and that's saying a lot. Their All-Star power forward, Tari Phillips, is now playing fantastically (and she sings a mean "Star-Spangled Banner"). Edna Campbell shoots lights out. The rest of the team and the new coach give their all, every minute.

Why do some teams continue to draw full stadiums while others have to scrape to get a few thousand? If you're tired of the NBA prima donnas, check out this team and the rest of the ABL. The camaradarie among those who attend is special, and the players are very accessible. Even the X-Bear mascot rocks. If you're like me, you'll be back.

David Lowenstein
via the Internet

Yeah, I watch basketball. And I watch women's basketball. I support women's athletics because I think that girls need to see women doing athletic, active things. Hell, I think women need to see other women doing athletic, active things. So I was totally psyched to see that the Colorado Xplosion was on the cover of Westword (which I read when I'm in town visiting my folks and my sister). I read the story (being, of course, a fan of women in sports), and I was appalled at the last part of the article, particularly this incredibly inane and offensive line: "But you have to be willing to take your daughter to a game where two-thirds of the fans sitting around you are lesbians."

Excuse me? What the hell does that have to do with going to the games and watching a group of talented, athletic women kick ass on a basketball court? Oh, no! There are lesbians in the crowd? "Well, I'd take my daughter to watch the Xplosion, but she might catch lesbian cooties." Or, worse yet, she might actually see lesbians doing really scary things like watching a basketball game along with everyone else in the crowd.

Let's play a little associative game: "Well, I'd like to take my daughter to a Colorado Xplosion game, but there might be [choose one or more of the following] Asian/Jewish/Latino/Black/ White/differently abled/anyone-who's-not-like-me people in the crowd."

Not only does that statement have nothing to do with the gist of the article (it's not titled "Women With Balls and the Lesbians Who Watch Them"), but it's ignorant and offensive! So lesbians are some kind of "undesirables" and shouldn't be around young women? What other creepy-ass rightist myths does C.J. Janovy support? Who cares who's watching the games? The important thing is that people go and watch the games and support their local women athletes! It's not an article about lesbians and sports. It's not an article about the sociocultural backgrounds of people who watch sports. It's about the Colorado Xplosion and the fact that a bigger crowd turnout would be great.

Well, even though I read that article and I found out there are lesbians in the crowd, I'm going to go to a game tonight! I'll go to every freakin' game I can! And if I run into young girls along the way, damn right I'm bringing them along to sit and cheer with me and everybody else! That's what the game is about!

Evelyn A. Schlatter
Albuquerque

Editor's note: C.J. Janovy's "Court and Spark" credited several Xplosion stories to Denver Post sports stringer Michael Kane. One of those articles, a pre-season story published on November 3, was actually written by Post sportswriter Michael Monroe.

After-School Special
Alan Prendergast's December 17 story, "A Matter of Principal," about South High School principal Shawn Batterberry's attempt to quash a story about a student drug-use survey, reminded me of something that happened long ago.

In 1976, as a reporter for the Denver Manual High School newspaper (then known as Bolt Action), one of my first story ideas was to conduct an anonymous poll among all Manual students regarding drug use. I wrote the survey questions, which were quite specific as to types of drugs used, how recently and with what frequency. The surveys were handed out by students in all homerooms one morning and collected by students, and the results were tabulated by the newspaper staff.

Although the survey and the resulting story reported that approximately 85 percent of Manual students had at least tried illegal drugs of some sort, the only controversy surrounding it at the time was that I felt that my story had been stolen by the editors, who wrote the story and got the byline! The principal of Manual at that time, the late, great Mr. James Ward, never said anything publicly about the story, nor did he ever at any time try to interfere with the newspaper's content. Our faculty supervisor, Mrs. Pat Cooney, was much more interested in teaching us good journalism than in the actual content of the stories that we published, even though there were many pieces that were less than flattering to the school (and many that were just darned silly!).

Student newspapers deserve the same free-press rights as any other type of publication. Public schools are government-run institutions, and as such, they have no right to quell dissent. High school students need to acquire all of the tools that they will need to become productive adults, and this cannot happen in a learning environment where free speech is compromised.

Dave Estes
via the Internet

Another Hit
Thanks to Bill Gallo for a superb DiMaggio story ("Say It Ain't So, Joe," December 3). Sensitive approach, masterful insights into a baseball icon. How have we ever deserved Gallo's expertise? I saw Joe play at Al Lang Field, St. Pete, one solitary, unforgettable time. The impression remains: As Gallo wrote, Joe seemed to float a foot off the ground out there in distant fielding position, gracefully catching and sailing back those high-flying hits. That was in 1949, but I've not forgotten. Thanks, Bill.

John G. Kessel
via the Internet

I joined the WACs in the summer of 1944. They moved you around. It was three months in Nashville, eleven months on Lake Champlain near Montreal, three months in North Carolina and the final three months on Long Island. I liked every place in the WACs.

Long Island gave us free tickets to many great events. The ticket manager urged me to see a very special game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Red Sox. This game was not listed. I was in the front on the right side. Yankee Stadium was filled. I was wearing my uniform and did not see any women.

Jackie Robinson made a home run. Joe DiMaggio was in front of me. He jumped high in the air and caught the baseball. I could hardly believe it. These two men have been my favorites.

I treasure Westword for publishing the Joe DiMaggio story.
Glenna M. Wilson
Denver

Another Stern Talking-To
Michael Roberts's November 26 Feedback column on Howard Stern was boorish at best. Roberts is uninformed, uninteresting and untalented, and his opinion shows just what a horse's ass he is. To base a complete opinion for a column on a radio show he listened to for what I'm guessing to be no more than an hour and a half is ludicrous. He is a doodie head with no basis for living outside a mental hospital.

Thomas Janks
via the Internet

Ho-hum. That was my reaction to your Feedback item on Howard Stern's first week in Denver. Another typical wanna-be celebrity writes an article on something he listened to instead of creating something on his own. People like Roberts are a dime a dozen. He hasn't the talent to create something original on his own, so he writes on and critiques things he hears and sees. How boring.

Do you have any idea how many "columnists" write a negative article on Howard when he first comes to their market? Nearly every one of them does. And every time, Howard proves them wrong. Every time. I guess I shouldn't let a no-talent like Roberts get me upset, because there need to be detractors in order to have someone to say "I told you so" to when Stern takes the Denver market by storm and eventually becomes number one. And that will happen--trust me. It may take a year or so, but it will happen. Then your readers will see how Roberts's "opinion" doesn't really matter.

Take care, loser. Want some salt and pepper to have with the words you'll be eating soon?

Shawn McCoy
via the Internet

I read with amusement Michael Roberts's comments regarding Howard Stern's foray into Denver radio. As an avid Stern fan, ordinarily I would have sent avid hate mail berating him for his failure to understand what it is that Howard is trying to accomplish. However, his comments seemed honest and genuine, so I thought I would send a civil e-mail.

I live in Memphis and started listening to Howard over a year ago. Like Roberts, I "just didn't get it" when I first tuned in. Over time, however, I began to see what it is Howard attempts to achieve. When Howard berates those who are perceived as weaker than he, he is not doing it out of spite. Instead, he is doing it to exhibit freedom of speech over the radio. Besides, any guest who comes on the Stern show knows what he is getting into. Howard is not the "dirty little secret" he once was.

Keep in mind that there are times when even I turn Howard off because the content can be pretty tough to handle. But that's the way I want it--I want it to embarrass, annoy, anger or disgust me.

It lets me know I'm still human.
Gene Gill
via the Internet

Man From Alanis
I read Michael Roberts's well-written and unintentionally hilarious review of Alanis Morrisette's latest CD ("The Major and the Minor," December 3).

I think he missed it. The CD is original without being "so out there" that it couldn't be called pop music. I am amazed at how she almost went out of her way to not rhyme, yet the songs have such a rhythm because of her clever and unsurpassed use of phrasing techniques. Didn't Roberts see that? I am of the opinion that he, as a critic, can't agree that it is a good CD because it just wouldn't be controversial enough. It was okay to like the first CD, since she was the underdog. When will critics like a CD because it is good, enjoyable? It has become almost predictable how they will rate a good CD as bad and a weird or underdog CD as great.

It was hilarious how Roberts dug so hard to find bad things about the songs. He is very talented at that; keep up the good work. But such a trait isn't that helpful with relationships and marriages. Fortunately, he is a critic, so it is a big advantage to have that gift.

Well. Thanks for sharing Roberts's opinion on Alanis. (It is okay if secretly he loves the songs "Front Row," "Thank You," "I Was Hoping" and "Would Not Come." Those are my favorites.)

Carl A. Fischer, president
Scout Records

Creative Accounting
Thomas Peake's December 10 "Getting Bolder," on the Boulder Creative Music Ensemble, featured his usual great job. When Fred Hess says, "Jazz is dead," I agree 100 percent, but in fact I believe all Western music is dead--innovation and creativity are non-existent anymore, in any genre, and things don't look to improve anytime soon. We're turning Charlie Parker and Coltrane into fossils; we're copying what they did years ago, when the real message of their genius is to be like them, which means to come up with our own thing. Seems like that's a real tough assignment these days, and of course, part of the reason is our mule-like dependence on the twelve-tone, equal-tempered scale. I say there will be no more great music in this system; it's a bit stinky, and it's all used up. That's why nothing new is happening--because nothing new can happen in this system anymore. I listen to a lot of different styles consistently, and all I hear is recycled riffs and ideas from the past. I say try playing jazz (or anything else) in other tuning systems, and then the delight and challenge of new discoveries will be close at hand. As it is, things are mighty boring on the musical front.

Neil Haverstick
via the Internet

Letters policy: Westword wants to hear from you, whether you have a complaint or compliment about what we write from week to week. Letters should be no more than 200 words; we reserve the right to edit for libel, length and clarity. Although we'll occasionally withhold an author's name on request, all letters must include your name, address and telephone number. Write to:

Letters Editor, Westword
P.O. Box 5970
Denver, CO 80217
or e-mail (include your full name and hometown) to: editorial@westword.com.

Missed a story? The editorial contents of Westword, dating back to July 1, 1996, are available online at www.westword.com/archive/index.html.

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